MISSOULA, Mont.—Heavy construction has begun, even as fundraising continues, for central Pennsylvania’s Elk Country Visitor Center, a partnership project of the commonwealth and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The center is designed be the largest elk watching and conservation education facility in the eastern U.S. The 8,420 square-foot building and 245 acres on Winslow Hill in Benezette Township, Elk County, will include educational exhibits, trails, story theater, wildlife viewing blinds, meeting rooms and display areas.
Ceremonial groundbreaking was last fall but construction began in earnest in late May.
“Total cost for completing and opening the center is $12.4 million. Under the partnership agreement, the commonwealth is paying for design and construction, while the Elk Foundation is raising money for exhibits and operation. We’re still working with donors who are interested in helping fulfill this commitment,” said Rawley Cogan, who is directing fundraising efforts for the Elk Foundation.
RMEF has raised $10.1 million and is working to secure the final $2.3 million to close out its fundraising campaign. Financial supporters to date include the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Dominion Foundation, Thoreson Foundation, Safari Club International, Eastern Chapter Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and many individual donors. For more information, visit www.pennsylvaniaRMEF.org or call RMEF at 800-CALL ELK.
The building will include green features such as rainwater collection and reuse, night-sky friendly light fixtures, use of locally available materials and sustainably harvested timber, and use of low emitting paints, adhesives and carpets. The building will be eligible for Gold LEED certification.
Construction completion is projected for spring 2010.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.5 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.